A government appeals board has upheld the police ban on a pro-independence group’s Friday evening vigil in Tsim Sha Tsui.
The Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) plans to hold an event at the Clock Tower tourist site to mourn the 20th anniversary of the “fall” of Hong Kong. But the police issued a formal prohibition notice last Friday, citing both public order regulations and possible violations of the Basic Law – the city’s mini-constitution.
Barricades have appeared in the Clock Tower area, with signs saying the area will be closed to the public between 9am on Friday and 11am on Saturday.
— WASH HANDS, MASK UP, STAY IN (@kevinluikf) June 30, 2017
Police are currently spread throughout the Clock Tower area, according to an HKNP Facebook post on Friday afternoon. The group attempted to relocate its vigil to the nearby Urban Council Centenary Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui East, but was warned by officers that its members would be arrested as soon as they began setting up.
It claimed a large number of police officers have been spotted checking the identity cards of pedestrians and conducting body searches in the area.
Convener Chan Ho-tin filed an urgent appeal against the ban Thursday morning, and said he was confident the appeal would succeed. But after a hearing on Friday afternoon, it was rejected by the Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions.
Chairperson Pang Kin-kee said the board had reason to believe the event would endanger the safety of the public, including its own participants, reported RTHK.
Chan told the broadcaster that participants would indeed face legal risks, and therefore asked them to avoid conflict with police or other people.
He had earlier called the ban “unconstitutional,” and warned that there was a chance all further HKNP events would be banned because of the group’s political views.
On Thursday night, the group announced a number of speakers for the event on Facebook. They include the student union presidents of six universities in Hong Kong, localist blogger Lewis Loud, and visiting Macquarie University lecturer Kevin Carrico.
“Though this rally is intended to be a peaceful one, the HKNP anticipates that the law enforcement forces and other relevant staff at the venue would be conducting a thorough screening of all persons near the vicinity,” the group added on Friday.